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Help Needed for Upscale 85-Person Dinner in DC


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So we were supposed to have our holiday office party at Ortanique, but that appears to be very questionable at this point.

So, being the bearer of bad news, the office manager determined me to be the guy to find a new restaurant.

Here is what I'm up against:

1) must be able to handle 85 people comfortably

2) must be willing to rent out the entire restaurant on December 15th (a Thursday).

3) must be in DC, downtown.

4) we are looking for higher end.

First off, what places can handle 85? Who would be willing to have us in for the evening?

The plan would be for cocktails/reception in a lounge or bar area followed by a longish meal.

Any suggestions or outright offers by chefs would be appreciated.

PM or posting work fine.

Thanks so much.

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My office has had a party for at least 60 at Butterfield 9, which might be what you're looking for. I think they can give you the upstairs, maybe not the entire restaurant, but your own separate space. Not sure 85 will fit but I do remember having a lovely time with delicious food, and it ran smoothly for an dinner of that size.

We've also had large parties at Old Ebbitt (in the courtyard) and Corduroy. I don't think either is right for you. The choices for large parties at O.E. are pretty limited, and if I remember right, Corduroy is not allowed to close completely because it's the hotel restaurant. Then again, I could be wrong about that. I'm sure someone will speak up if so.

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:lol: Why do you need a whole restaurant? Having planned many an event, if your company wants a restaurant to not serve other patrons it is going to be very pricey. Restaurants generally do multiple seatings an evening so closing requires a high penny.

An alternative is to find a space that can be used with catering. For example, I would consider a venue like the Spy Museum or the Women's Museum. Both can accomodate groups and allow catering.

I have not been, but know that Charlie Palmers is used for private functions all the time. They must have a separate room for such events.

Just my thoughts...

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Chophouse has a lower level for private functions. Not sure how many people it holds exactly, but I know it's often used for rehearsal dinners, engagement parties, etc.

I would also check out the new Zengo. The place looks quite large. IndeBleu also has a separate dining room (upper level) that might be the right size.

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What are you willing to pay, be specific? 

Essentially, if you close down a restaurant, you have to guarantee their lost revenue for that night, so it will definitely be a few hundred dollars per person...

Oh, I don't think with these guys that this would be a problem. We had a 50 person dinner at Butterfield 9 during the summer.

However, our office manager just heard from Ortanique that they will be open and their issue was with somthing structural in the building.

I'm so in the dark about this restaurant, but the website makes me worried


Thanks everyone, I put together a good list for future uses. I should have just went to DR's where to eat in DC list earlier, but forgot that existed. Too engrossed in the blacklisted thread I guess.

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That's, uh, scary because my office is just doors away from Ortanique. I will have to walk by later and try to see what's up. Overall, I think it's a decent place for happy hour (particularly the upstairs bar) and the setting is kind of cool. Feels like a dinner club or something.

Palena seems to be rented out for private events quite a bit lately. If money's no object, that is your spot!!! Request the duck raviolini with foie gras emulsion.

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My good deed for the day (month!): http://www.restaurantkolumbia.com/ - Jamie Stachowski is an awesome chef!

If Laine Mullins is still the Special Event Coordinater at Ortanique, she's the best of the Best, whatever she says is honest and fair, so you're in excellent hands! I actually got kicked out of Ortanique a few years ago because I was dancing on the 2nd floor to a live band and one of the bartenders stuck the bill between me and my dance partner - while we were dancing!!! I went ballistic, a bunch of us still laugh about the episode, especially the part about when we went to the manager of Ortanique at the time, and he KICKED US OUT!!! Seems like they support aggressive bartenders!

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And?  And??

I think Rocks is asking how it went. Well, the short of it is that I wouldn't judge Citronelle by this dinner. We had a choice of osso bucco, filet mignon, or crab cakes for dinner. We weren't in the restaurant proper, but in a meeting room below. Our servers were a bunch of surly help hired, I think, for the night. The osso bucco was decent, but no better than what one can make at home. Wine choices were basic, but appealed to a wide crowd. I wasn't impressed at all with the dinner, but it was a totally different setting and experience from the restaurant proper. Appetizers were predictable as was the salad starter and unmemorable dessert.

The whole dinner could be summed up as "serviceable," but not necessarily worth $100 a head.

The food, however, wasn't what this dinner was about. It was about gathering most of our office together and celebrating a great year for the company. My highlight was getting a $75 gift certificate to M&S.

The night before I had dinner at Corduroy with a smaller work group (10) and it was an entirely different affair. The food was excellent and the hosts were wonderful. This was my choice, and it everyone was extremely pleased.

Next year I think I'll organize the holiday dinner as we had such success at Corduroy.

[Edited to correct errors]

Edited by Biotech
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The night before I had dinner at Corduroy with a smaller work group (10) and it was an entirely different affair. Next year I think I'll organize the holiday dinner.

I don't think Tom Power is capable of preparing a meal that is merely "servicable." :)
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Let me get this straight: You took a party of 85 to Citronelle at $100/head. It's hard to get out of the bar area with a lobster burger, a appetizer and a couple of glasses of wine for that price. Did that include wine, tax and tip? If it did, then your expectations were too high.

ETA: This sounds more like hotel banquet fare than Citronelle.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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